A blue plaque honouring the ‘greatest viola player of the 20th century’ has been unveiled at his former Wimbledon home.

Lionel Tertis retired to a flat at 42 Marryat Road, Wimbledon, after a dazzling international career where he transformed the status of the viola, previously ill thought of among musicians.

Mr Tertis, who was born in 1876 and died at the home that now permanently bears his name, became so prominent that famous composers including Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst wrote pieces especially for him.

John Gilhooly OBE, director of Wigmore Hall and chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society, unveiled the English Heritage Blue Plaque on Thursday, pictured below, in front of invited guests.

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Among those to attend were current residents of the flat Margaret and Robert Lyons, who are members of the Tertis Foundation.

Mrs Lyons said: "Lillian Tertis, Mr Tertis's widow, was absolutely determined that everything that could be done to preserve his memory and remember his heritage, was done, including setting up the Tertis Foundation in 2003.

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His former home in Marryat Road, Wimbledon

"Sadly she died in 2009, so she did not know that we had gained an English Heritage Blue Plaque in his memory, but it is a wonderful recognition of his life and work.

"We are all completely thrilled to see the plaque commemorating all that he did for the hitherto neglected instrument - the viola."

Born in Hartlepool to Polish-Jewish immigrants, Mr Tertis grew up in Spitalfields in the east end of London, "a place," he remembered "of such intensity and squalor that I wonder that I have lived to tell the tale."

He left home at 13 and after a period as an itinerant pianist, he went to study at the Royal Academy of Music in 1895.

By 1900, at the age of 26, the Royal Academy had appointed him to the newly created post of Professor of Viola.

He played in chamber ensembles with many distinguished musicians, including the pianist Artur Rubenstein, who called Tertis "the greatest glory in England in the way of instrument or players."